ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
It's not quite desperation stakes yet but Dapto prop Matt Handcock says Saturday's match with Wests is shaping as a must-win for the Canaries as they look to keep their top-four hopes alive at Parrish Park.
Dapto have managed only one win so far this season and Handcock said his side can't afford to yield any more ground to the top sides.
"We all know if we lose this week that it won't be impossible, but it will be really hard to make the four," he said.
"There's a lot of rivalry between Wests and Dapto as well.
"There's a lot of boys that have played these games as juniors and the rivalry's pretty strong, so it's going to be a tough game."
Scorelines have been unduly harsh on the Canaries at times this year but they produced their worst performance of the season against Helensburgh last week, with coach Chris Leikvoll using the word "soft" to describe the performance.
Handcock, whose standout individual form earned a call-up to the Illawarra representative team this week, said the coach's comments did hurt his side's pride.
"It hurt a bit. We got a fair spray at half-time but what he [Leikvoll] said was correct," Handcock said.
"For the first time this year no-one was putting in for each other. It felt like you were out there by yourself, which isn't good.
"It's very frustrating at the moment. We know we've got the guys there to turn it around but we really need a win this week against Wests.
"At the moment we're only playing 60-65 minutes and that 10 to 15-minute period is really costing us.
"We've got to match them in the forwards and play for the entire 80 minutes."
The match between the long-time rivals is the first leg of a rivalry round that will see Thirroul host Helensburgh in the northern derby at Gibson Park on Sunday.
Tigers coach Ryan Powell said his side had been slowly building but needed to vastly improve on their second-half fade against Dapto last week.
Elsewhere in the league, interim coach Rick Higgins will lead Corrimal into their match with Collegians at Zeims Park on Saturday after the board sacked coach Trevor Schodel last Sunday night.